Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Universities and the Arms Trade

Today I was witness to something that annoyed me. No different to any other day, really, but this time I felt like bringing it up here.

A course-mate of mine was lamenting the expensive prices of parking and food at University and how it was 'unfair'. I managed to maintain a semblance of non-anger and went on to try and point out the main issue.

That is, of course, our old friend Capitalism.

I asked them why they thought things were expensive. With no actual answer forthcoming, I have a brief description of Universities as altruistic organisations. I.e. They're not.

Depending on your level of involvement in UK politics there are several issues you may be aware of. The most public issue is probably that of top-up fees. More money from students supposedly funding education of a higher calibre.

However, if you're a little more involved in politics you may be aware of lecturer protests, walk outs and strikes over the last few years. The conditions which the lecturers protested over have not changed and there are few real plans for them to change, so what is this extra money for?

Certainly not to pay lecturers.

No, Universities are monetary beings like any company or business in this country. They want to make money to invest in themselves - for research projects which could lead to prototypes which could be sold, for example. This investment, in a perfect world, leads to more money and more investment.

But they do not, of course, always invest it in themselves to make money.


I became aware of this little issue a few years ago, and it's irked me ever since. Don't get me wrong - weapons are a fact of life. Violence and conflict happen all over the world and most people want to be equipped with the finest killing machines they can afford. Sort of ups the chance of victory.

But the fact that Universities are getting extra cash from students and, effectively, pumping part of it into arms companies to make more money to pay the lavish salaries of Vice Chancellors just doesn't sit right with me.

Of course I didn't go into this detail with them. They couldn't get over the fact they had to pay 4 pound for a pork chop and chips.

No comments: